Adventures in Digital History has proved to me that reaching people through the Internet is an invaluble tool for teaching and learning. Even more so, putting history on the Internet in meaningful ways to connect to people makes the discipline more complex and applicable to everyday life. I have no doubt that each site created this year will be viewed numerous times by people all over the world. Everyone’s use of information architecture has made sites that are appealing, easy to use, and informative to all age levels and groups. Digital learning, media, and teaching will become the dominant way people learn, teach, and experience the world. However, finding the balance between experiencing the world through what others have created and experiencing the world yourself is important for the continuation of society. While we should place value on the Internet for the interconnectivity it creates, we should always place value on being human.
The Historic Buildings of the University of Mary Washington will be an integral site in the advertisement of the University of Mary Washington campus. I feel this way because our group adhered to our original goal of creating a site that would ascertain the historical significance of each building. The importance and impact of the site is evidenced by the volume of interest from students and university departments to use the site and include it in other university materials. Along with accomplishing the main goal, our group was able to include significant visual aspects that make our site more interesting (pictures and the interactive map). For the most part, the group as an entity adhered to the deadlines of the contract. Individually, certain group members did not adhere to their deadlines. Our group expected this which is why we allotted extra time in the deadlines for any delays. However, some deadlines needed to be met in order to allow Sam and Kay to load the information accordingly. I think the research aspect of the project was the hardest to adhere to deadlines because none of the researchers realized how difficult it would be to find information of the people the buildings were named for. The map was past deadline but that was because Kayle had to depend on DTLT to upload the map. The website creators achieved the desired effect and look of the site. I think the website it effective and adds a new dimension to the University that the Admissions department has not fully tapped into yet.
The process of working in a group and working on a website was not easy. I would like to first say that you should never put five girls together in a group. Our group had issues with communicating and forming cliques. I believe that the issue of communication was due to differing personalities and differing schedules. These issues are best represented by the disagreement over which members’ pictures to use and who was to edit the site. Originally I was supposed to take pictures and edit Cam’s research. However, disagreement led to the use of Kay’s pictures and editing done by all group members sporadically. While it might seem that the researchers had little to with the construction of the site, this is not true. All of the researchers loaded their drafts to the website and edited them as well. Also, I needed to understand the inner-workings of the site so that I did not mess up any aspects of the site when editing or changing things. I found that creating the site was easy for the most part. The only issues I encountered were editing text with pictures included in the pages. I enjoyed researching the namesakes of the buildings and founding out the interesting facts about the buildings. A part of the process the group neglected to think about was publicity. Since our focus was on the University, publicity was easy because we could utilize university resources to publicize our site. The best part of the whole process was receiving the e-mail from the Director of Web Communications praising our site for its breadth of information and application of digital humanities.
Overall, I thought our group’s presentation of the symposium went very smoothly. I do have to credit myself for this because I made our outline. I was excited to see that so many people had questions about our site and our choices for the site. It was especially exciting when a student came up to us after class and asked for our website name. I think having the website under the wikipedia page is a great bonus. When some one asks us how to get to our site, it is a lot easier to say “go to wikipedia and search UMW’ than spitting out a URL.
This week I am going to work on emailing the Freelance Star newspaper and the Bullet to see if they would be interested in featuring an article about our site in either of their papers. Also, I am going to look into getting in touch with admissions to see if they would be interested in pitching our site to prospective students or if we could give them literature to put in admissions packets.
-Experimental History in the Classroom by Martha Hodes
This was an interesting article because I had no clue what experimental history was, but realized that I might like it very much. From what I gather in the article, experimental history is a mesh of creative writing and traditional historical research. While textbooks and scholarly works in the history field are often boring, experimental history offers a reinvigoration of life into the books that are suppoed to teach us about the world. I think that this practice would take a lot of cross-curriculum training and I am not so sure that the average history major could take a course in experimental history and be sucessful at it. I think that for it to work, it would be necessary to have a creative writing background.
-Digital History Reader: Teaching Resources for U.S. and European History by E. Thomas Ewing and Robert P. Stevens
I believe I have encountered the Digital History Reader many times while I was in high school. The article describes a sort of site/database/collection of primary sources that aim to answer specific questions about history and the intertwiming topics within the study. When I took AP U.S. History, my teacher spent a lot of time having us look at a collection of primary sources and developing a question from those sources. She also did the reverse, which was mirrored off of the AP exam. This way of looking at primary sources greatly helped me hone my skills of analyzing primary sources and their contextual meaning as well as their historical value. I think this source should be utilized in all classrooms because those skills I learned in my class, I feel that I have lost them because most primary sources are handed to students in lower level history courses. Until students reach their HIST 485 course they don’t really have to look at primary sources and asses them they way the digital reader helps to asses sources.
-Clio and th Bloggers by Anthony Grafton
I have always wondered why blogging would be appealing to historians and people involved in the history profession. This article somewhat answered that question for me. I understand that the community of historians has been dwindling and is well-isolated, but that still did not answer the question. Anthony Grafton helped by relating that historians are looking for an outlet to voice their opinions, concerns, and general thoughts. The general thoughts part of this statement confuses me. Some historians make their blogs professional and a space that contributes to the academic world, but Mr. Grafton says that some bloggers include their personal issues in their posts. I wonder how credible a blog can be if scholarly thoughts are muddled by personal thoughts. I do like the author’s comments on the blog called the “Invisible Adjunct”. I think blogging is a great way to address the issues historians have with their profession especially in terms of getting jobs and pushing students to go to graduate school.
Our group is making great strides with our site. As far as I know, Kay and Same have been uploading pictures and research to the website. Kay finished the history section about UMW. I have gotten the flyers approved to put up on campus. All I need to do now is get them copied and find places to put them. I don’t have access to any of the residecen halls on campus so if anyone would like to take a few to post in their residence halls that would be awesome. Kayle is waiting ever so patiently for Tim to put the map on the website and once he does that she can put the pin points on all the buildings. Once we have the map I think we will be very close to being finished. Hopefully we will have it up before Creativity Day.
With data mining, I’m sure they are more than seven dwarfs and Snow White hacking away at the digital world to collect data. While the process of digital mining seems like it could be beneficial to certain kinds of research, I can’t help but think of the age old debate, “quantity vs. quality”. Data mining and N-grams for a person looking a raw data, but these two methods are a clear example of how the qualitative aspect of researching is being lost. As for myself, I’ve been doing a lot of research for my senior thesis. When I go to the library to dig through the shelves, I find myself exhibiting these sorts of methods. I instantly look in the index for major search terms and if they aren’t mentioned then I discard the book. What the researcher loses is the chance that what they are looking for is in the context of what they should be reading. In some ways, I feel like these two methods are the easy way out. For every mention of a search term, there must by at least three mentions of the term without the term being used. Do these data mining and N-gram techniques account for that?
In reference to Nicholas Carr’s article, “Is Google Making us Stupid?” I believe Google is making us stupid. Every time we change out search terms to find more information on Google what we are really doing is manipulating our brains to think like Google’s search engines. This act is forcing us away from thinking like human beings…critically, intelligently, and rationally to thinking like monotonous computers.
On the subject of searching in history, I think researching is becoming more complicated. “From Babel to Knowledge” by Daniel Cohen addresses that quantity may make up for the lack of quality. I disagree with him in one way. We have all had that “aha!”, epiphany moment while researching where we find a piece of information that will concrete our argument or a source that is so influential to the subject we are studying that we would have never had found through normal internet search means. This moment is influenced by quantity of research, but mining may not produce the same results as sitting on the library floor looking through books.
Overall my view point on this week’s readings is that data mining and N-grams devalue the the institutions of literature, history, and humanities. Some where along the line we are losing those critical thinking skills that we work so hard to develop in college.
In terms of research, my part of the research is done. I finished over spring break which is so exiciting because Dr. Alvey’s book (which I’ve had my head burried in) smelled funny. You know the “not-good” library book smell. Now that my research is done, Sam and Kay have been uploading my drafts and the other ones finished pretty steadily. It is very exciting to see the website come together because for so long it seemed like a blank canvas. Today, I’m going to take pictures of the buildings on campus, from a student’s perspective. For instance, most pictures of the library are taken from the hill next to it. I want to take pictures that represent how an individual walking through campus would see the campus. Also, I was thinking that it might be beneficial to take pictures of collective buildings to have a better grasp of how campus is laid out, like the residence halls that are grouped together. It seems that the clouds won’t let the sun come out today so if anyone knows a sundance please let me know.
I’m trying to create my digital portfolio, resume thingy and I’m having problems with the pages on umw blogs. I thought I had created subpages under academics for my course work, but apparently they are saved but not on my site face. Can anyone help. I am wordpress illiterate.
Lesson 1: Dr. McClurken does too much. He makes me feel seriously unaccomplished. In all serious though, it seems to me that creating a digital resume is actually easier than making a resume through microsoft word and the like. The digital world gives you the freedom to customize, personalize, and professionalize your resume. (Dr. McClurken’s site).
Lesson 2: Dr. McClurken’s use of UMW Blogs allowed him to attach and implement different kinds of technology into his main page. A resume like this creates a well-rounded personality and representation of achievements versus the one page resume maximum I was taught which allows for virtually nothing specific to be put on the resume.
Lesson 3: There is no safe place to hide in today’s society. I have wondered if I could completely drop off the grid. I’d turn off my cell phone for the whole and imagine a world where my overbearing mother couldn’t call me whenever she wanted. Evan Ratliff’s experience of disappearing was intensely orchestrated and even he couldn’t fully escape being tracked electronically without tremendous difficulty. (Evan Ratliff’s journey to disappearance).
Lesson 4: Your digital identity can be what you make or you can let it make you. In reference to Facebook and other social networking sites, I have always been to never post anything online that might incriminate in the future. If you post anything, then people can form there own opinion of you, but if you selectively post then you can control the person you are on the web. Effectively you can create an alter ego. (The Rise of Alter Egos)
Lesson 5: Your privacy is never safe. No matter how many measures you take to protect your privacy, you can never be sure that you are fully protected. On the subject of social networking sites, people have created alter egos to protect their identity by disfiguring their own identities or creating new ones. The fact of the matter is someone is always able to find you on these sites. I get friend requests from foreign countries I can’t pronounce, from foreign names I can’t pronounce. Not to mention the people who’s facebook accounts have obviously been hacked into. Their privacy has been violated too.
In closing, I would like to say that in a world where technology is becoming the easiest and most popular way to communicate it might be better to never go on computers at all.
Kayle and I met with Professor Hanna on Tuesday and it was fantastic. We walked into his office and he already had the map of campus up and ready to go. The rest of the meeting was followed by “awesome”, “that is so cool”, and “wow”. I do not think we expected him to be so helpful and resourceful. He has offered his assitance in furture edits of the map in case we want to change colors. Other than that, basic edits for us will be easy. We need to eliminate the white space and crop out certain features like the battleground and the shopping center across route 1, but that will be easy thourgh photoshop or a windows picture program.
Our group has progressed very well. We have settled into the swing of things. Kayle, Cam, and I have continued research and I have done six or so drafts of the residence halls. Kay and Sam continue to make strides with the website and are doing a lot of work concerning obtaining pictures from the archives. Overall, I think we are on track and will have a lot more to do when we come back from break.
Happy Spring Break everyone!!!